Imagine being deliberately shoved against other people so hard that within a few minutes, you've completely forgotten what it was like to be able move or breathe or experience happiness, as your body is slowly crushed by a giant mass of flesh and bones (and boners). For some in Tokyo, this is known as "going to work."
See those guys pushing people into a crowded train with impunity, while everyone else stands and watches? Well, they're doing that because it's their job: They're called oshiya, which literally translates as "train pushers." Yes, in Japan, there is a word for "person who stuffs trains with human bodies." Train pushers are usually strong and intimidating and they take their job description pretty seriously, as you can see here:
The fact that the Japanese government deems it necessary to pay workers to cram more people into trains is the result of a complex set of socioeconomic factors. Houses in Tokyo are really, really expensive -- like $45,000 per square meter expensive, on average. So while there are "only" about 13 million people living in Tokyo proper, there are tens of millions more living on the outskirts who have to commute to the city every single day.
They had to use fire hoses and riot guns to clear the platform off enough to take this picture.
Consider how excruciatingly fucking tedious traffic jams must be in Tokyo that people would rather subject themselves to the humiliation of being pushed into a train full of sweaty body parts than drive to work. And yes, creepy hobos with persistent stenches also exist in Japan, and they also use the subway as their personal offices.
Incidentally, "Poo Man on the Run" was the name of our funk band in college.
Tokyo authorities have stated that they plan to reduce train capacity to "only" 150 percent, which makes us think they need to rethink their math (or build bigger trains). Also, we weren't joking when we mentioned boners earlier: Train-groping (as in groping someone in a train, not fondling the train itself) is a real thing, and despite the anime industry's best efforts to romanticize it, it is a serious problem in Tokyo.
Shockingly, real-life women seldom enjoy sexual harassment.
Tokyo train-riders have a pretty accurate name for this whole experience: They call it tsukin jigoku, or "commuter hell." Actually, being shoved, immobilized and sexually harassed sounds exactly like our idea of hell.
Tower climbers are exactly what they sound like: Dudes who get on top of very tall towers to fix stuff, because someone has to. So how do they get to work? By climbing a tower.
Bet you didn't see that coming.
Actually, they ride most of the way up in an elevator and only have to climb about 200 feet by themselves. Unfortunately, those 200 feet happen to be positioned at the very top of these extremely tall broadcasting towers -- like those on the (former) Sears Tower, whose tallest spot is located more than 1,700 feet above the ground (not a good place to be in a city known for being windy). Add to this the fact that tower climbers have to carry bags filled with assloads of tools (weighing around 30 pounds), because if it turns out they need a wrench or something, it's a pain in the ass to have to go all the way down to fetch it.
This is right about the time your taint would start to itch.
But it gets worse: As if the job wasn't scary and dangerous enough by itself, tower climbers apparently feel the same way we do about their commutes -- the faster they can get them over with, the better. For you, this means running a few yellow lights; for tower climbers, getting to work faster involves ditching some essential precautions and "free climbing" massive sections of the tower without any protection. Sometimes, they even film themselves doing that for your enjoyment:
Do not watch this video if you have a heart condition. Seriously.
We can tell by the narrator's disturbingly calm voice that he wasn't actually watching the video while he was talking, because it is impossible to see it and not lose your shit at least a little. The OSHA (Occupational Safety and Health Administration) also lost its shit when this video went online, forcing the site that originally posted it to delete it ... even though OSHA guidelines appear to be cool with free climbing as long as it's done under ideal conditions (that is, without a camera recording the whole process to be uploaded on YouTube).
This one beats all the other commutes on this list simply because it isn't done just by adults -- in fact, it's mostly done by children. Impossibly badass little children who zip-line across mountains to get to school.
Their teacher must be extremely hot.
These kids live in Colombia, in a remote outpost called Los Pinos (pronounced "Lost Penis" according to the following video):
The Colombian government hasn't built a bridge across the ravine separating the village from the nearby town (where the only school is located) because they literally cannot be arsed to -- since they say not enough people live there. Well, maybe that has to do with the fact that there's a huge freaking ravine right in front of them. If they want to get anywhere, the inhabitants have only two options: a two-hour hike across rocky terrain or a one-minute zip-line ride. Sure, the zip-line is much faster, but would you be willing to take that risk, especially if there were children involved? Think about it.
"Eh, fuck it."
While zip-lining is a relatively safe practice and lots of people do it for fun, consider the fact that tourist zip lines are periodically checked by experts, while no one gives a shit about Los Pinos, so the villagers have to perform all the maintenance themselves. Also, we're not talking about bored thrill-seeking dudes here -- we're talking about little children, and they have to do this twice a day, every day. And that's not all: See this adorable little girl carrying a burlap sack with her?
She looks like she could drop-kick six lumberjacks without breaking stride.
What could possibly be in there that's worth adding the extra weight? Books? Food? Some sort of parachute ...?
Nope, that's her little sister. And yes, they make that trip daily. So next time your grandpa starts whining about how he walked uphill to get to school when he was a kid, show him this goddamned article.
For more ridiculous means of transportation, check out The 8 Most WTF Ideas In the History of Transportation and 6 Transportation Innovations More Baffling Than The Segway.
And stop by Linkstorm to learn about the rigorous trek Cracked staffers make to work everyday (in the rare occurrence they have an actual place to live).
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